In this space, I often wonder if I’m leading readers astray as I encourage people to ‘go for it’ in the football business. What if I’m leading people down a path that winds up in a bad place? What if they take a risk and it works out in a really negative way?

As I was searching for today’s War Story, I came across this from Phil Emery, the former Bears GM who spoke at our seminar last January. Phil is adamant that if you’re going to succeed in football, or even in life, you have to take a few leaps.

“Take risks, and don’t be afraid of them, OK? I’m sure there’s very few people in here that have talked to the one-percenters that are all the political debate about, the top one percent of wealthy people in the United States. OK? I’m not one of those. I didn’t come from there, if you are, you’re very fortunate, OK? You probably took risks to get there. Take risk.  I’ve always kind of looked at it, and I reminded myself when I got the job in Chicago is, you’ve never really had anything, so swing harder. Don’t choke up on the bat, OK? Don’t choke up on the bat. Swing hard. I swung hard, OK? It didn’t work out, but I’m proud of one thing: we weren’t afraid to swing. Nobody left me at the plate looking at the ball, OK? We spent every dime we could spend, and we tried to make the best decisions that we can, or we could. So that’s my advice. Remember, anything is possible. Do it for the benefit of others, and don’t be afraid to take risks. The more risk you take, the more change will happen in your life, and ultimately, change makes you stronger.

“I counted up, I’m going to be moving on my 20th move post-college. I’ve made 20 different moves. I’ve had 11 different jobs, and my wife’s been with me for 18 of those moves, so she’s gold, OK? We’ve been together for 34 years, and every one of those changes benefits you down the road. The things that I did as equipment manager benefited me as a GM. Why? Because I could walk down to that basement and knew exactly what that person was doing, and those organizational tasks help.”

If you’re more of a visual person, check out 7:56-9:38 in this video and you can hear it from Phil himself.

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